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No promises from Department of Health on Cancer Registry staffing

Prof Kerri Clough-Gorr made the call at her first NCRI board meeting in September, minutes of which were seen by this newspaper following a Freedom of Information request.

Projects such as the Irish Prostate Cancer Outcomes Research (IPCOR) and Blood Cancer Network Ireland “have been taken on” by NCRI “without the proper infrastructure to manage them and present significant staffing/management challenges”, Prof Clough-Gorr told the meeting.

Prof Clough-Gorr was appointed as Director of the NCRI last year, replacing long-standing Director Dr Harry Comber following his retirement.

At the same September meeting, Prof Clough-Gorr said that a “new external staffing review should be done in the future”.

Last week a NCRI spokesperson told the Medical Independent (MI) that “no promise has yet been made by the Department of Health for staff increases”.

The spokesperson also noted that “it is likely to be 2018 before any external staff review will take place”.

In a recent post on the NCRI website, Prof Clough-Gorr commented on the fact that the Department does not fund the NCRI to collect information relating to patients living a long time after a cancer diagnosis.

Cancer was a disease “that has changed over time” but NCRI data collection content had not, she wrote.

“Fortunately, many patients are now surviving a very long time after diagnosis and/or may be living a long time with their disease. Unfortunately, the Department of Health does not fund NCRI to collect information on this crucial part of the cancer experience.”

Disease-specific registries aim to collect more detailed diagnosis, treatment and survival information “than NCRI is currently funded to do”, she stated.

However, she noted the challenges associated with having individually-developed, externally-funded, disease-specific registries.

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